Commentary

Last-Click Attribution Model Shorts Content Creators

About 88% of click paths require more than three clicks, content sites are the last click only 6% of the time; and in affiliate marketing, content creators drive new customers to merchants about 55% of the time, according to a report.

A white paper from Slimlinks and U.K. merchant Shop Direct lays out the shortcomings from today's last-click attribution model, and suggests another way to attribute value to each channel in the click path.

Shop Direct adopted the alternative click model that the white paper describes. The new approach gives less credit to the clicks that are farthest from the conversion, and the score diminishes with the passage of time between click and purchase. The model also assigns different grades to stops on the path, depending on how effective they are in the customer journey. Grades are based on customer types -- new customers vs. returning customers -- according to the white paper.

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The two companies participated in the study because content sites lose revenue, despite the fact that they drive product awareness and purchase intent. This happens because of their position on the path to making a purchase.

The white paper explores ways to better reward publishers for creating purchase intent by understanding how the last-click attribution model works, as well as its impact on advertisers. It claims that the affiliate marketing default attribution model only rewards marketers with commission for driving traffic to an online retailer when the affiliate's site is the last click prior to purchase.

In a multichannel world, one source can't possible become the sole influence for a purchase. The white paper describes a typical path ranging from one to 150 clicks, with 88% of the paths requiring more than three clicks. The biggest problem suggests that content sites heavily factor-in the first click, sparking the initial desire for the product, but disregarding all the clicks between the first and the last. As consumers become more informed through product reviews, searches and social media, another problem diminishes the weight on the last.

Despite the fact that the industry fixates on the click method, there are other actions to consider. Should the ad industry only consider a click, or should we consider a swipe or a tap or a voice command when designing attribution models? After all, we not only need to consider the query results from clicks, but voice search as well, especially on mobile devices. The same keyword search on a tablet, PC and smartphone rarely returns the same content.

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